Year two: reflections 

 

Yay! Second year completed – no more exams, revision… just relaxing and enjoying the sunshine! Not for long though..

I fly out to Spain next weekend for 2 months to work as an au pair, and then come back for august before flying out to Russia for 9 months. Is this real life? I cannot believe that it’s happening already! My year abroad is finally upon me, and I have to admit I’m excited but also a little nervous.

Last summer I had a not so optimal au pair experience, so I’m really hoping and praying that this year won’t be like that. I’ll be living in Madrid until the end of July, and I’ve never been there before so it will all be new to me! I’m hoping to make some friends at the church I’ve found and intend to go to while I’m there, but I also hope to gel well with the family.

I will take as many pictures as possible so hopefully a few will end up on here, and also I’m going to do some year abroad posts – things like what to do/what not to do and how to go about studying your language while abroad and making the most of your time out here. I hope it will be useful!

The weather in Exeter is beautiful right now, I’m loving the sunshine and clear blue skies. I’m missing my church camp back home (this weekend) which is sad, but I rang my family yesterday to top up on some lurve before I go home on Tuesday. Yeah, I know, I’m already about to go home and leave for the summer!!

I will admit, this year hasn’t been easy. It’s been somewhat easier than last year in the sense that I knew what to expect a little more. You can usually tell the difference between and fresher and a second/third year because of their confidence levels and how they behave. I definitely feel more confident and well on my way to being a True Adult. Although I’m not sure I’ll ever fully grow up! But I can at least feed myself decently well and put a wash on once a week so we’re doing good so far!

I was so glad to walk out of my last exam yesterday knowing that that was it. The thing is, I’d been struggling with the more complicated grammar stuff we learned this year in Russian, and even Spanish was giving me a run for my money! The step up was bigger than I expected… so I had to amp up my game and work harder than last year. I pretty much coasted last year – which is not the best approach, but then it doesn’t count towards your degree so most people do even less work than I did!

So yeah that’s the first thing – this year was harder work-wise. Because it counted. So everything had to be good. I had to read tonnes of books and things while doing all of my grammar/homework for my lectures and preparing before the lecture in order to write my coursework in my second term. And I had to revise hard over Christmas for my January exams, which is never fun at that time of year.

Secondly, I learned to trust God a lot. I couldn’t work a lot this year because I was so busy with my studies, so there were some hairy moments where I had barely enough money for food and things. Don’t worry – I made it through, but it was a little rough in places and this is also partly because I didn’t really earn a lot of money last summer. It’s hard to get a job as a student because bosses look at your CV, realise they’ll train you up to only lose you again in 3 months and say nah not having you. #studentlife.

But this summer that won’t happen as I’m working as an au pair through a company and the family has to pay you. But anyway, back to my point. I had to learn to trust God with my finances… to trust it would all be OK and try and still meet up with friends even if I couldn’t buy food or a coffee, but to just be there to enjoy being with them because that’s the important bit.

Lastly, I learned to forgive myself and love myself for who I am. It’s something I’ve found hard my whole life, and I’m sure I’m not alone with this. But this year has really been a turn around in many ways… and that has definitely been helped by reading the Bible and discovering what God thinks about me and not worrying about what other people think.

Bring on summer… I hope you’re all well and enjoying the weather as much as I am!

Christmas! 

I’m finally getting to the end of the first part of my second year. My year abroad decisions deadline is this coming Friday, and exam week is straight after Christmas in January so we all know what I’ll be doing during my holiday! Yup – working! The good thing is that this Christmas I can still earn money doing deliveroo (they are going to transfer me back home) and babysitting/childminding… so I’ll be able to afford better presents for people hopefully 🙂 I love shopping for the best deals and bargains and getting things I know people will like. Some are more easy than others… for example, I know that my dad shares my love of dates so I usually get him the best dates I can find in Worcester (ASDA – in the Polish/international foods section, you can thank me later!). 

Going home as a student can bring up mixed feelings. I am so lucky to have come from a happy home and amazing family, who I love very much. But when you’re at uni, you kind of get into your own independent routine. The key word here being independent – although it’s great to go home to a clean kitchen, a dishwasher, sofas and plenty of free hugs, you know you’ll miss the independence of your uni home, being able do do whatever you want when you want and not having to wait for others.

It struck me that essentially, you can become a bit selfish at uni. I want to do this at such and such a time…. it’s easy to not have to consider other people and even just not see them for weeks! 

I think the key is to remember that in life you can’t always have what you want, and sometimes that means sacrificing your desires to put someone else first. It’s not easy, but without it your relationships can’t develop. It’s about loving people! 

And what better time of year to do just that? Christmas, for me anyway, is about love – God sending his only son into the world so that we can know Him and have a relationship with him, our Dad in heaven. So much love! 

I don’t really have a picture for this post – it was kind of strung together on the spur of the moment (like most of my posts in all honesty!). But I hope it helps someone out there 🙂 

Merry Christmas (or happy advent!) I may post again once I’m home – who knows? But ’til then, have a good holiday guys 🙂

I’m learning

Hey guys I’m back! (Finally!)

Sorry I haven’t posted in ages I’ve been busy juggling work / sleep / friends / jobs / life generally so I’ve not been able to really sit down and write in ages.

Honestly, my weeks have been quite long and tiring as I’m cycling absolutely everywhere and while it’s great for fitness it does tire you out. On average I cycle between 4.5 – 8 miles+ a day depending on if I’m going to Aldi or town / to meet friends or if I have to make a couple of trips to campus! And then on Thursday I spend 3 hours with other girls in my group for a project we’re doing together trying to joint-write a commentary on a video which was absolutely exhausting – not made any easier by the fact that we’re all feeling a bit upset with one member as she’s not really doing any work but relying on us to do it all!

This term Russian is really biting me in the bum. I mean I understand a lot more than before but it’s still complicated. Still, every little sentence I get right, every word I remember when asked… all of these are little wins in my opinion. It shows progress – and that counts.

Little things are keeping me going – people from back home are sending me lovely little presents which make me smile when I get them out of the postbox – today I got a Nakd fruit and nut bar and I just love them – they have so many flavours but I love the gingerbread one the best ❤ especially at this time of year…. anyone remember my pumpkin sesh last year? Well trust me it’s happening again… the moment Aldi starts selling them I buying one (or more!) and making as much pumpkin soup and pancakes as I can!!!!

Autumn is the best season!

Recently I’ve been really challenged to read my Bible more. We had a preach the Sunday before last about Recycling Prayers… as in, the more you read the Bible, the more that it becomes ingrained in you and then in situations when you don’t know what to pray, you can rely on the things you’ve read in the Bible to guide you.

I thought that was a great idea… so I’m trying to make time to do that in the morning before my day kicks off. I’m also listening to some interesting podcasts from Bethel about laughing at lies and this has been really helpful too. Things like, I can never do that, I’m not good/smart/pretty enough… all of these little things we tell ourselves which so aren’t true!!

I still have 2 jobs – The Ram and Deliveroo, so that adds more cycle time to my already very physically active lifestyle which I kind love if I’m completely honest – it means I don’t have to worry so much about doing a workout – I’m being paid to cycle!! And if I want to get to lectures on time cycling is the quickest way. So it means I do it without thinking, and it just takes the pressure off. And that’s the best kind of exercise because you enjoy it more!! Although not gonna lie the elevation here in Exeter is big!! My thighs were so sore a few weeks ago when I was getting used to it. But at least I’m getting plenty of sleep having worn myself out through the day!!!

So yeah no worries guys I’m still here, alive and well… just being a student I guess!! Hope you like my new recipe which I posted earlier – it was so good and makes a massive batch so you can save it to have through the week if you’re cooking for one or just have it as a family 🙂 It’s amazing what good food can do for the soul!

Here’s the link: https://adventuresofababelfish.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/autumn-chilli/

Hope you all enjoy the beautiful colour and atmosphere that Autumn brings 🙂

 

 

Term 1 Year 2 – God and other things :)

Life has got crazy pretty quickly down here in Exe.

This year, sadly, I haven’t joined any clubs. Not break dance, not gymnastics, no orchestras. I have my reasons… primarily, the cost. Gymnastics is £90 for the year, which, long term, works out pretty cheap, but as an upfront cost at the start of term, when you haven’t really had a good solid summer job to earn tonnes of money, is pretty steep. Likewise with the orchestras… the price is huge up front – but also, my course is pretty full on this year. I mean, it was full on last year, but this year its 13 lectures/classes and they are adding TWO MORE for Russian. Which is great – but not great at the same time because it means two more hours that I have to get to everyday. Plus my timetable is so spread out it’s unreal. I might have one lecture in the morning, then two hours, then another one, then one or even three hours, then another one. There isn’t enough space in the library and around campus all the time for students to study so I tend to go home. By bike its quick and not so bad – but Exeter is hilly. Really, really hilly. So some days I’m cycling to campus 3 times. I’m hungry all the time… and, like last year, I have a small budget for food. Add to that the fact that I’m now a Deliveroo rider (on my bike) and basically I am hungry ALL THE TIME.

So yeah I have a second job – casually mentioned that^ – but this means time for me is scarce. I’m still trying to go to CU every once in a while but it’s not likely to be regular. I’m prioritising church and going to my community group every week and church on Sunday… but apart from that I have to spend all my time doing my work and reading before my next module lecture. Such is life in your second year. I was comparing hours/work with a friend of mine doing medicine the other day and we have the same amount of hours and work each week. I’m effectively doing the equivalent of a medicine degree but in languages. This is when learning Russian really bites you in the bum. Like, why Russian???

It means that I might find it harder to meet up with friends and things around all of my various commitments. Oh and I’ve signed up to do peer mentoring and I’m helping a friend with a Spanish module she’s taking on the side of her degree….. The list goes on!!

Basically, it’s so good that I’ve got God with me. Because if I didn’t have God on my side, I think I would be having multiple melt downs right now.

I’m learning not to worry. I’m learning that sometimes you have to say no. Even though people always want a piece of me and are inviting me to socials and training etc. I have to accept the fact that my degree and my sanity need to come first. I mean it’s flattering that people want me around, but this IS what I’m here for after all. (And why I’m so in debt!) It was interesting because I found an article (it’s on my wall on Facebook) about why uni at the moment is one of the most unhealthy places to get your degree – so many people are suffering from mental illnesses and have this warped mentality that uni is meant to be the best years of your life and if you aren’t enjoying it an  going out to all of these events etc. then you aren’t doing it right. It’s not true. Honestly.

Last year I was definitely a victim to this mentality surrounding uni and the moving away from all that is familiar thing. I thought I would be fine and that uni would be the best 4 years of my life. Then, slowly I realised that some of my flatmates were really difficult people to live with and be around, and actually that I was spreading myself too thin and this was stressing me out making my IBS flare up – so I was getting ill. I’m so glad that I’ve come out on the other side stronger for it and ready to tackle the year ahead with a smile on my face. I feel so free now that my eating disorder is gone and I’ve stopped believing a whole load of lies about myself that I’d been carrying for years. It’s amazing what happens when you start seeing things positively and speak blessings over yourself and not curses. All the rubbish falls away and you’re just left with happiness… sometimes I think I’m so happy now that people around me can’t handle it. Wow.

You will definitely grow at uni – There’s  no other option. Either you grow and make it through, or you don’t and you drop out. Probably because you weren’t ready to change. You have to be ready to adapt to this lifestyle. Some people are lucky and they pick a course which has 4 lectures a week but most people either don’t do enough work or kill themselves going after that 1st (as in the grade). You have to find balance. It’s this word which floats around and no one really knows what it means or how to get there – but that’s because it takes practice And practice is a day-by-day thing. A teacher of mine always used to say that practice makes progress, not perfect. I believe her. I will never be perfect. But I’m definitely further along in my progress towards a good k-life balance than I was before because of all of this time management I’ve had to do to keep organised and on top of things. Actually, I prefer the phrase keeping afloat. Sometimes it feels like you’re swimming in deadlines and work and only just keeping above water enough to breathe.

This is where God comes in – I try and have a little bit of quiet time to read my Word For You Today (UCB) and a bit of the Bible or listen to a good podcast (I have some Bethel ones) and this really helps ground me. A lot of people on social media are talking about meditation and its benefits for grounding you and helping you live stress free. So I guess this is my ‘meditation’, if you will. Talking to my best friend and looking at life from His perspective and trying to be more like Him. Trying to show love and kindness. Trying to be available for people even when you have so little time and it feels like too much.

It’s all good.

 

Anyways, that’s update for those interested 🙂

Red flowers Mum got me for my new room ❤

Exams around the corner – dealing with stress

It’s that time of year again… exams are coming. I have a week exactly before I go home (I mean to Exeter… my home from home) on the 23rd. Then I just have 4 weeks of exams and some work at the Ram and I’m done for the summer woo! Powering through and going over everything I’ve learned, watching a few sneaky episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and visiting my real life friends is pretty much my life right now. I feel kinda proud that I managed to knuckle down and get some good solid work in this week. I spent about an hour at least writing out my personal statement in Russian to help with my oral exam in two weeks. I’m freaking out about it but it’s only 10 minutes long so it’ll go by in a flash. Hopefully!

I was worried that I wouldn’t get any revision done (like Christmas 2015) because I don’t know why but I just ‘slumped’ – no other word – and I just couldn’t bring myself to do ANYTHING at all. It was so bad. But I think the problem was a) since GCSEs (year 9-11) until the end of A-levels (year 13) I have pushed myself to my absolute limit trying to get A*s and exceed at everything I do. I’m a perfectionist and I never do anything by halves, but when you’re balancing a ton of things at once, it does run you into the ground eventually. I had a mini panic attack (my first and hopefully my last) back in March I think last year (2015) and I could hardly find the energy to write my coursework. I was drained.

I’m amazed that I didn’t get glandular fever or something. Plus I was rowing and running and dancing and doing Insanity about 10 hours a week and I had a job on top of that. I’m so glad it’s over. Over that summer I actually worked so I didn’t even go on holiday with my family, I thought I didn’t need it. So by Christmas, I was exhausted. So, lesson for today is, take a holiday. Please. For your own sanity. (And for the sanity of those around you too, am I right?) 😉

So yeah, this summer I fully intend to get some kind of job if possible, but I also intend to switch off and have a good rest from everything. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not doing it again!! Fortunately I’ve had a month off this Easter so I’ve been able to have a full 2 weeks of light-to-no work and these final two weeks are power weeks of revision. My head’s a lot clearer and I’m memorising things better again. I’m also away from the environment in my flat which helps a TON. And I can get as many cuddles from my mum as I want – WINNING! (She also makes us delicious juices in the morning for breakfast which are delicious).

  
  
Both of my best friends are in town right now, one of them (Ellie) is staying with me right now in my house, and Ruth is at hers. We chilled the other afternoon which was cool. She has a dissertation to write or something. My other friend Sarah (not the flat mate) has her dissertation to write and she’s almost a physiotherapist now!! We actually went to talk to this youth group in Pershore (UK) the other weekend about what it’s like going to uni, and what a gap year is like etc. It was a great evening and I think the girls that came took a lot away from it. We left it feeling pumped that’s for sure 🙂

So yeah… that’s most of the news. So have a holiday and learn when too much is too much and listen to yourself. I have seriously driven myself into the ground from stressing out too much and it’s not good. It used to get to the point where I was so wound up that the back of my head would actually ache and I couldn’t sleep properly and I lose my appetite. It’s better to tell someone what’s up, even if they turn it on its head and point out just how trivial and silly it is to be worried about a silly little thing or something, and even to just back off and not do it for a while. Maybe sleep on it. Sleep is good. #student

Also reading the Bible and knowing that God has a plan for you. I like reading this magazine thing from UCB called TheWord4U2Day (youth version) and often the paragraph for today is really relevant which is great 🙂 AND and and and…. talk to God and tell him about it. He cares. Even if it’s a stupid little thing. He loves it. Trust me.

ThisgirlAudra posted a really great video on her YouTube channel about stress and what it does toy your body which is really good so be sure to check that out 🙂

I am so excited for summer – I can’t wait!

Update Halfway through Term 2

There’s so much going on on campus at the moment I don’t think I’d be able to mention it all!!

Currently there are people campaigning to be the next student president, vice president, sports union president, treasurer… you name it. You get stopped by people in colourful t-shirts wielding brownies and cakes to try and persuade you humbly to vote, even if not for them, just to vote. It’s a nice atmosphere though. One of my friends has nominated himself too and he’s in a good place to get in, that’s for sure. There are also some funny campaign videos going viral. I think I’m just gonna read their manifestos and vote that way. Brownies do not move me. Even if they’re vegan!

I’ve begun renewing my love of break dance – we went out as a crew on Monday to this event called PHAT at a club called Cavern and it went really well. I managed to get the guts up to go into the cypher on the tiny stage myself and do a round.


 It made my voice a lot worse though – I lost it Monday morning and then on Tuesday I was all croaky 🙂 Wednesday it wasn’t good in the morning but got better through the day. So now all I have is a bit of a cough 🙂

Most people seem to be run down now, and I guess it’s mainly cos it’s the middle of term – week 5 – and it’s just when everyone gets ill.

My friend Jamie had to pull out of BUCS (gymnastics) this weekend – most of my Russian set has a cold.

I’ve really got into this series on Netflix called Heartland. It’s American and its about this family that lives on a horse ranch. It’s rekindled my inner dream to live on one when I’m older…. horses have been my favourite animal since I could say the word, even though I haven’t always been able to afford lessons. I’m thinking maybe in my year abroad I could spend some of it on a ranch in South America somewhere…. that would be a dream come true! But I’d have to brush up on my riding. So I’ve been looking around and at prices. We’ll see…..

I also need to keep my gymnastics up over the summer so I’m going to try and save a bit to help pay for membership for a few months.

Money, money, money….. God’s definitely teaching me a lot about it. About not worrying about it and where it comes from.

The ECU activities week was amazing too. So many students came to the lunch bars and evening talks and many gave their lives to Jesus which is just ACE 🙂 I got to host one of the team that came from Oxford to do the talks etc. and I and my friend Esther made her this Moroccan dish with chickpeas and she loved it 🙂 (Might post it later sometime!)

Anyway… must carry on working as I have lots of formatives and deadlines to meet next week!

 

 

 

Up early.

Guess who got up at 6 thinking it was 7 because her watch doesn’t automatically change?! Me. But I don’t mind!! I got to watch the sunrise as I took the bins out. They were overflowing again and way too heavy for me but I managed to get them out to the big bins. The sky was all pinky and orange 🙂 I get an extra hour all to myself – I’m not going to complain! The only downside is I had my breakfast too early so now I’ll want lunch early too! 

I’ve got plenty of time before I need to go to Grace church so I can do some work and maybe some yoga or something. Maybe I’ll go for another run?! Nah too lazy this morning! Occasionally I do yoga because it’s great for core and arm strength. And stretching – I’m quite flexible so it helps me stretch completely and get rid of knots in my back. Oh and don’t worry – I would never make myself live through a breathy meditation-y video. I pick ones which are just focused on activity, not meditation. I’m just not into that stuff personally.

  
My beanie is my new joy 🙂 I wear it a lot – it’s a slouch one! Because it’s been raining a bit recently it’s so useful. Especially as my hair becomes a serious health hazard when it meets humid or moist air. It just becomes a massive frizz-ball!

Still amazed at the convo I had with my flat mates last night. It was so bizarre. One of them, Rob, had been saying recently how you just never know if any moment could be your last. It’s possibly because he had this sudden (hernia) operation, and he’s actually waiting for another one for his knee which he busted playing football a while ago. His surgery has been delayed again, and he’s literally not allowed to do any exercise now – not even swimming. So I guess he’s in that kind of mood – you know, thinking about life and stuff. 

Maybe that’s why he initiated the conversation last night. It’s hard to explain it… I’m aware of how crazy it all must sound to someone who doesn’t believe… Three in one? God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same guy? Huh?!? One of them actually asked what the Holy Spirit was. I’m not perfect, and my answers felt so inadequate. I’ve no idea if God can use them to sow seeds… That’s in his hands now. 

God is teaching me a lot at the moment that’s for sure!

Short post guys – like I said I have some extra time! Happy Sunday 😉